There is a story in the family that, after the proscription of the McGregors in Scotland in the 17th century, when their name and tartan were forbidden, a number took the names White, Brown, Green to avoid association with other clans. The McGregor clan is undertaking a DNA profiling exercise to see which Whites are descendants of the Clan. : White Recorded as White, Wight, Whyte, and the unusual Whight, this is an English surname of the most ancient origins. It has a number of possible origins. In the single spellings of White or Wita, it appears in the very earliest surviving registers such as the famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of the pre 9th century a.d. Whilst translating as white, the early name referred either to a baby, one who was "unblemished", or it may have been for some nameholders an ethnic term given to a Viking or Anglo-Saxon, who were pale in hair and complexion compared with the original native Celts, who were dark. Another possible origin is residential. If so this could describe somebody who lived at a "wiht", generally regarded as being the bend of a river, but in some areas of the country could describe a stretch of land suitable for grazing. It could also mean "The wait", as in the village name of White in Devon, which originally, it is claimed, denoted a place suitable for an ambush! Lastly the name can be Huguenot 17th century. Many French people called 'Blanc' fled France after 1685, and in England they changed their name to White. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surving charters and egisters include: Ordgar se Wite of Somerset in the year 1070, Walter le Wytte in London in 1284, and William le Wytt, in the Subsidy Rolls of York in 1327. Amongst many interesting recordings is that of William White, who sailed on the famous ship "Mayflower" in 1620. Sadly he lived only a short time and was recorded as being buried at "Elizabeth Cittie, Virginea" in 1624. The Ancient and Feudal Arms of England show that a Sir John White (also spelt Whyght) in the time of King Edward 11 (1307-1327), was listed as having fought at the battle of Boroughbridge in Yorkshire 1322, when the Scots were defeated. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Alwin Wit. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Hampshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087.
History And Origin 1. English, Scottish, and Irish: from Middle English whit ‘white', hence a nickname for someone with white hair or an unnaturally pale complexion. In some cases it represents a Middle English personal name, from an Old English byname, Hwīt(a), of this origin. As a Scottish and Irish surname it has been widely used as a translation of the many Gaelic names based on bán ‘white' (see Bain 1) or fionn ‘fair' (see Finn 1). There has also been some confusion with Wight.
2. Translated form of cognate and equivalent names in other languages, such as German Weiss, French Blanc, Polish Białas (see Bialas), etc.
Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Inc. © 2006 Patrick Hanks
White is a surname. In the 1990 United States Census, White ranked fourteenth among all reported surnames in frequency, accounting for 0.28% of the population.United States Census Bureau (9 May 1995). . Retrieved on 2008-07-04.
- http://stirnet.com/genie/data/british/ww/white01.php (subscription required to view without interruption)
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- http://stirnet.com/genie/data/british/ww/white03.php (subscription required to view without interruption)
- http://stirnet.com/genie/data/british/ww/white04.php (subscription required to view without interruption)